Lead with Languages

This month we have great news to share!

On March 3, ACTFL launched its national language proficiency awareness and advocacy campaign and website, Lead with Languages. This multi-year campaign aims to build awareness about the increased demand for language skills and supports the growth of learners who are competent in other languages and cultures. Check out its website, follow @LeadWLanguages on Twitter or send out your own #leadwithlanguages tweets, or download a badge and put it in your email signature, LinkedIn, or wherever you see fit.

February also marked the release of two groundbreaking documents about the current state of World Languages and the needs and vision for the future.

The first is entitled America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century. In 2014, a bipartisan group of members of Congress asked the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to undertake a new study of the nation’s language education needs. Four members of the U.S. Senate, including Wisconsin’s Senator Tammy Baldwin, and four members of the House of Representatives requested that the commission answer the following questions:

  • How does language learning influence economic growth, cultural diplomacy, the productivity of future generations, and the fulfillment of all Americans?
  • What actions should the nation take to ensure excellence in all languages as well as international education and research, including how we may more effectively use current resources to advance language attainment?

The Commission on Language Learning of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) released its final report, entitled America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century  on February 28. This is the first national report on language in over 40 years. Read the final report and share at #LangReport.

The AAAS press release about this report, titled the “United States Needs to Significantly Increase Access to Language Learning to Remain Competitive,” will help you update your “elevator speech” about the importance of language learning.

The second seminal report is Not Lost in Translation: The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the U.S. Job Market released by the New American Economy, a nonprofit, bipartisan coalition of more than 500 mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform. The report asserts that the demand for bilingual workers in the United States has more than doubled over the past five years and is not limited to one end of the economic spectrum, but rather “spread across the economy as a whole.” When asked why learning another language is important when the “whole world speaks English,” you can refer to the astounding statistic from page 4 of this report: “Americans lose almost $2 billion each year because of language or cultural misunderstandings.

This eVoice column calls for Advocacy in Action! The Lead with Languages initiative, combined with these two pivotal documents provide a powerful platform for us as we speak out for what language instructors instinctively and through personal experience know to be true. How will YOU use this wealth of information to highlight the importance of learning another language and understanding the perspectives of other cultures?

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